Hermione sat down nervously opposite the headmistress in her personal quarters, eyes darting around the attractively furnished space appreciatively. The dark wooden furnishings were offset by richly coloured drapes, deep clarets and golds calling to mind her former role as head of Gryffindor House, and yet the deep sumptuousness of the colours seemed perfectly suited to the complex, powerful woman in whose emerald eyes Hermione wanted to lose herself.
Minerva smiled across the small table at her guest and poured them both a cup of tea, politely pushing a plate of Ginger Newts across too.
After the mandatory small talk was exhausted, Minerva sat back in her seat and stared slightly appraisingly at the younger woman.
"I must confess Hermione, I was a little surprised when you agreed to come back to teach," the headmistress allowed a small quirk of her lip, noting the blush staining the young woman's cheeks.
"Pleased, of course, " she added hastily, "it's not often you meet intellect like yours, but surprised nonetheless."
"Um, why headmistress?"
Minerva pursed her lips thoughtfully. "I think the general feeling was that whatever you would do, it wouldn't be shutting yourself away here at the start of your working life." A small smile took the sting out of the headmistresses words, but Hermione felt them nevertheless. Her heart thudded in her chest, as she sought an answer that didn't involve admitting her, oh so inappropriate, but so real, affection.
"Ummm..." Uncharacteristically, the young witch seemed at a loss for words. Minerva wrinkled her brow slightly as she looked coolly at the young woman opposite. There was something most definitely wrong with Hermione, and, if Rolanda Hooch was to be believed, she herself was the reason. Minerva sighed to herself. In the cold light of day, this whole situation seemed preposterous, not to mention dangerous, and Minerva was not a lady to ever take risks – certainly not ones that involved messy things like feelings. What felt like an epiphany last night, in her still lust-addled mind, was nothing short of foolhardiness now. Having this young woman in front of her, clearly wrestling with her own feelings and conscience, was doing nothing to clear her own mind. Minerva stifled another sigh. At least she should shortly know exactly what Hermione felt, if anything, about her. There was always that.
Hermione stared blankly at the class of Hufflepuff third years, all studying their textbooks with entirely too much concentration for her liking. A tall boy near the back raised his hand, glancing quickly at his partner as he did so.
"Uh, Professor Granger?"
The red headed boy swallowed nervously.
"I've finished the chapter Professor..." he visibly shrank under her stare. Wasn't she supposed to be a Gryffindor? How come she was acting all Slytherin on everybody?
The Professor stood up behind her desk and surveyed the classroom, placing her hands on her hips.
"Well?" She demanded. "Is Hamish the only one who has completed this chapter?"
A silence descended, the only noise being a muffled cough as a pale girl near the front turned scarlet trying to restrain her coughing.
"Your homework is to complete this chapter, complete with the exercises at the end, as well as the next chapter." A chorus of groans arose. "Which was to be your homework in any event," she said meaningfully, "once you had completed chapter 3 in class."
Hermione sat back down and shuffled some parchment on her desk. "I expect it to be in by 9am tomorrow. You may leave."
The class rose to their feet with alacrity, none of the students wanting to either be last or to be the subject of Professor Granger's stare. After a brief, undignified struggle, during which 4 students became jammed in the classroom doorway in their haste to exit, Hermione found herself alone in the classroom. She stared unseeingly down at the parchment on her desk, the tortured missives of her prior class swimming meaninglessly before her eyes.
What had she expected, really? A fairy tale declaration that Minerva harboured lesbian feelings? A fairy tale was just that, a fairy tale. A lie of a fantasy realm for children to keep the magic of childhood just that little bit longer. Think logically, Hermione urged herself. If she doesn't, er, like, women, then she won't be interested full stop. If she does, then there's no guarantee she will necessarily like you anyway. She might like older women herself, or more butch, or blonde, or redheads…..put it this way, if she is, by some huge stretch of imagination, a lesbian herself, then that is no guarantee she will go for you. So get real. So why can't I stop this feeling I get when I'm around her, like I'm 11 years old again and i'm desperate to impress her, and i'll do anything just to see her smile and see the approval in her eyes…
Hermione raised her head with a start. She hadn't realised her head had dropped into her hands and she automatically glanced at the door of the classroom to check that she was still alone. Running her hand distractedly through her curls she gathered up her rolls of parchment and exited the classroom, intent on a hot bath and glass of wine to try to unwind before dinner. She walked slowly down the corridor, mulling over her increasingly pessimistic thoughts, when she heard low voices coming from a nearby classroom, that she identified as none other than the Transfiguration classroom.
"…are you going again?"
This voice sounded like the Flight Instructor and Quidditch Coach, Rolanda Hooch. Hermione's lip unconsciously curled at that thought and she held her breath.
"Oh yes, it was a surprisingly pleasant evening. Quite against all expectation." A small chuckle accompanied this remark, one that Hermione realised belonged to Minerva McGonagall.
"Oh Rolanda, before I forget, the Daily Prophet will be arriving tomorrow. Apparently the Ministry is keen to focus on the importance of education and career opportunities. They are starting with us." The headmistresses grim voice spoke volumes about her thoughts on the matter.
A snort from the sports mistress broke the silence. "Not Rita Skeeter? Better keep Severus under wraps then!"
The sound of both women's laughter rang in Hermione's ears as she hurried away from the Transfiguration classroom, all thoughts of her bath forgotten.
Inside the classroom, yellow eyes sought out emerald, and two pairs of lips curled in surprisingly similar smiles, the classroom door slamming shut.
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